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A Brief History of
South Side Christian Church

In 1920, while at a tent meeting sponsored by First Christian Church in Hammond, 30 courageous people signed a pledge to establish a new church on the ever-growing south end of Hammond. Picture of 1920 tent meeting
Picture of 1922 concrete block church In 1922, after meeting in temporary quarters that Wallace School provided and selling concrete blocks for 25 cents apiece, construction was completed and South Side's first permanent home, on the corner of 165th and Van Buren, was dedicated.
By the summer of 1925, the South Siders had outgrown their basement sanctuary and a vacant lot on the corner of 169th and Madison was purchased. Two years later, a small and modest frame building (affectionately referred to as "The Little Brown Church") was erected on that site. Picture of 1927 'Little Brown Church'
Picture of 1932 building Again South Side outgrew itself, but this time the congregation had The Great Depression to contend with. Short on money but long on determination, the men and women of the church combined their efforts and a larger sanctuary - complete with gravel floor and plank seats - was constructed adjacent to The Little Brown Church.
It took two years, but in 1932 the new building was complete and ready for dedication.

It took a few more years, but the gravel floor was eventually replaced with concrete and those roughly-hewn plank seats gave way to smoothly-finished oak pews. In 1943, the mortgage was symbolically "burned" and South Side cheerfully embarked on endless remodeling and refurbishing projects in order to meet the demands of its ever-growing congregation.

In 1950, Calvin and Gail Phillips were called to lead the congregation, and it is worthy of note that the Phillips family continued on at South Side for 34 years.

The Little Brown Church was razed and replaced by an educational building in 1959; that same year South Side's first assistant minister (Jerry Rupert) was called. Picture of educational building

In 1964 two morning worship services were begun; in 1966, a major renovation of the church, both inside and out, was completed. Shortly thereafter, it was decided that South Side would soon need to expand its facilities, and several properties surrounding the church were purchased.

By 1973, attendance had reached 724 and a new parking lot adjacent to the church was filled to overflow capacity on Sunday mornings.

Picture of January 1974 fire ruins Then, in the early morning hours of January 13, 1974, a devastating fire (determined to be a result of a wiring problem) destroyed the sanctuary, offices, library, fellowship hall, preschool facilities, and everything housed within those walls. Only the educational wing at the rear of the church building was left standing.

The same morning, however, with the smell of smoke still permeating the air, the congregation met for worship service in the auditorium of Edison School, just a few blocks away. For those who were privileged to be a part of that worship service, it was an experience never to be forgotten. South Siders determined they would not settle for the ashes of ruin and despair.

They continued Sunday morning worship services at Edison School until February, then transferred their meeting place to rented quarters on Kennedy Avenue in Hammond. That same year, just five months after the fire, the congregation decided to relocate to an area that would not limit its plans for expansion, and eight acres of land was purchased on the corner of Broadmoor and Tapper in Munster.

An architectural firm (Eriksen and Olson) was soon hired, and it was estimated that the new church would cost 1.3 million dollars. In February of 1975, $900,000 in bonds was sold within twelve days; on April 27 ground was broken. In May of 1976, they began sharing church facilities with their original benefactors (their brethren at First Christian Church, located near downtown Hammond on Calumet Avenue) -- and five months later an additional $225,000 in bonds was sold within five days.

And so it was that on April 24, 1977,
we dedicated our current beautiful building
-- and rededicated ourselves --
to the worship and service
of Jesus Christ,
our Lord.
Picture of current building erected in 1977

Throughout our 80 years and in spite of The Great Depression, World War II, and that devastating fire, South Side has offered a well-rounded schedule of service activities for every age group, from crib to maturity.

As early as 1935, an extremely active and successful youth group (Christian Endeavor) was in operation, primarily to provide South Side youngsters with wholesome fun on Sunday nights. Today, we have a Youth Ministry program that is designed to appeal to young people of specific age groups.

For instance the Christian Kid Zone Club (CKZ) is for children ages 3 through 5th grade -- and in addition to spending time together at church on Sunday nights, they are just as likely to enjoy a supervised outing to a local indoor playground on Saturday afternoon. Our junior and senior high kids go to chaperoned Christian concerts, take all-day excursions to Great America, and, among other youthful pursuits, study and compete in the Bible Bowl competition.

There has always been Bible/Sunday School instruction for all age groups, and a Christian Women's Fellowship program that was begun in 1944 is still going strong. Vacation Bible School has been an annual event since 1950. In 1977, an independent, Christian, weekday nursery school opened its doors to the community. In 1978, a Senior Saints ministry was begun and continues to thrive; in 1980, the Calumet Deaf Missions ministry found a permanent home with us.

We sponsor blood drives; we help feed the homeless; there has always been an ongoing emphasis upon missions and church plantings. Our fellowship Hall provides space for athletic activities (volleyball, dartball, basketball), countless church dinners, and a variety of civic functions. We have an excellent music department which includes choirs for both children and adults and two handbell choirs.

As we see our Lord involved with people's real needs, we catch a glimpse of our own purpose and mission.

In January of 1992, the last of our bonds were retired and South Side Christian was said to be "debt free."

But, of course, we shall always be indebted to those 30 hardy and foresighted people who attended that tent meeting in 1920. They, and the South Siders who have come after them, have met challenge-after-challenge by serving their Lord with joy and thanksgiving.

Drawing of current South Side Christian Church building

Charles Starr

Thomas Bradt

Vaniel C. Troxel

Marvin Schaffer

William T. Moore

Leland K. Marion

E. T. Lewis

Ralph Wolfe

M. G. Long

Carl Hoff

Robert Matthews

L. L. Chamness

William Valentine

Harry Mount

Calvin L. Phillips
Senior Minister

Barbara Williams Seiter
Youth Director

Jerry Rupert
Assistant Minister

James Flanagan
Associate Minister

R. Allan Dunbar
Associate Minister

Bonnie Richards Greenburg
Christian Ed Director

Tom O'Brien
Associate Minister

John Williams
Youth Minister

David Taylor
Associate Minister

James Payne
Youth Minister

Jon Milam
Associate Minister

Larry Philippi
Youth Minister

Nicholas A. Tomeo
Youth Minister
Senior Minister

Stephen Nash
Associate Minister
Senior Minister

Jon Weatherly
Associate Minister

Cliff Burgess
Associate Minister

John E. Wasem
Senior Minister

Tim G. Campbell
Minister of Membership

Jim Spradlin
Senior Minister

Steven D. Clark
Youth Pastor

Mike Wittl
Senior Minister

Grant Ray
Associate Minister

Sky Allen
Senior Minister

Logo of South Side Christian Church South Side Christian Church
1000 Broadmoor Avenue ... Munster, Indiana
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